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How to freeze your credit

When you freeze your credit report, you protect your personal information from thieves.

Freezing your credit report blocks new creditors from accessing your credit reports. This means fraudusters can’t open false accounts in your name or steal your identity by trying to peek at your credit report – a major issue in the security space. In 2021, about 23.9 million people fell victim to identity theft, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics’ latest data(1).

How to freeze your credit for free

You can freeze your credit report for free by contacting each of the three major credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian and Transunion.

Only current creditors you have, select government entities (such as child support agencies) and approved companies that monitor your credit file can view your credit reports during a credit freeze.

How to freeze your credit report with TransUnion

Visit TransUnion Credit Freeze and create a free account. Or, log in to manage an existing one. Follow the instructions and fill out a freeze form. You can also call 888-909-8872 and request a freeze after verifying your identity. If you prefer to send the request by mail use P.O. Box 2000 Chester, PA 19016.

How to freeze your credit report with Equifax

Visit the Equifax Consumer Services Center and create a free account or manage one you have with the bureau. Afterward, fill out a freeze form. You can also call 1-800-685-1111 and request a freeze. Or, you can send a request to P.O. Box 740256 Atlanta, GA 30374.

How to freeze your credit report with Experian

Visit the Experian Freeze Center and create an account or log-in to your current one. Then, fill out a freeze form. You can also request a freeze over the phone by dialing 888-397-3742. Or you can send a written request to Experian Security Freeze, P.O. Box 9554, Allen, TX 75013. The written request should include the following.

  • Your full name including initial
  • Social Security number
  • Complete addresses for the past two years
  • Date of birth
  • Copy of a government issued identification card, such as a driver’s license or state ID card
  • Copy of a utility bill or bank statement

Information you need to freeze your credit

To freeze your credit report, you’d need to provide some personal information:

  • Legal name
  • Current address
  • Former address
  • Social Security number
  • Birthdate
  • Copy of proof of identity like a Social Security card
  • Copy of proof of address such as a driver’s license or state-issued ID

How to freeze your child’s credit

If your child is under 16, you can request a free credit freeze from each of the three credit bureaus under their behalf. To do this, you’d need to contact each of the three credit bureaus online, by phone or by mail.

While requirements for freezing your child’s credit report may vary across bureaus, you should keep the following information and documentation at hand.

  • Your and your child’s full legal name
  • A copy of you and your child’s birthdate
  • You and your child’s Social Security card
  • Proof of address such as a utility bill
  • A list of all your home addresses for the past two years
  • A copy of your driver’s license or other government-issued ID

How to freeze your child’s credit with TransUnion

To freeze your child’s credit with TransUnion, you’d need to send a written request to place a “protected consumer freeze” on your child’s file to TransUnion
P.O. Box 380 Woodlyn, PA 19094.

It should contain one copy of the following documentation, according to TransUnion’s credit freeze FAQ(2).

  • An order issued by a court of law
  • A lawfully executed and valid power of attorney
  • A copy of a birth certificate
  • With respect to a protected consumer who has been placed in a foster care setting, a written communication from a county welfare department or its agent or designee, or a county probation department or its agent or designee, certifying that the protected consumer is in a foster care setting under its jurisdiction.
  • Documentation proving your identity such as Social Security number, birth certificate or a drivers license.

How to freeze your child’s credit with Equifax

To freeze your child’s credit report with Equifax, you’d need to fill out a minor security freeze request form. And you’d need to send that form along with the following documents to Equifax Information Services LLC, P.O. Box 105788, Atlanta, GA 30348.

To prove your identity (A copy of one of the following)

  • Government issued ID
  • Social Security card
  • Birth certificate

To prove your child’s identity (A copy of one of the following)

  • Child’s birth certificate
  • Court order
  • Lawfully executed and valid power of attorney
  • Foster care certification

How to freeze your child’s credit with Experian

To freeze your child’s credit with Experian, visit Experian’s Child Identity Theft Protection webpage and click on “Add or remove security freeze for a minor.” Then, complete the form and under the “Additional information” heading, click “Place a security freeze on your child’s credit file.” Print the form and mail along with a copy of your ID and your child’s documentation to Experian P.O. Box 9554 Allen, TX 75013.

Here’s the information and documentation you’ll need to complete the process.

  • Full legal name
  • Social Security number
  • Birthdate
  • A list of all your home addresses for the past two years
  • Government-issued ID card
  • A piece of mail or utility bill or bank statement showing your current address.
  • Your child’s birth certificate
  • Your child’s Social Security card

Will freezing my credit hurt my credit score?

Freezing your credit report won’t harm your credit. It helps protect your information from falling into the hands scammers. However, you won’t be able to access new credit until you unfreeze your credit.

How to unfreeze your credit

You can unfreeze a credit report for free by contacting each of the three credit bureaus in the same fashion you initially froze your credit report. You can request a thaw to unfreeze it for a certain period of time or permanently unfreeze it.

Bottom line

Freezing your credit report can safeguard your private information from scammers because a freeze blocks new creditors from accessing your credit report without your permission. If you want to freeze your credit report, you’d need to contact the three credit bureaus Equifax, TransUnion and Experian and fill out some forms. If you’re wondering if you need a freeze, you can get your free credit report to see if there’s any unusual activity.

Frequently asked questions

Is a credit freeze and credit lock the same thing?

A credit freeze and credit lock both block anyone from accessing your credit report without your explicit permission. But a credit lock is not free and usually is part of a subscription-based service that bundles different identity theft protection features.

Do I need my PIN to unfreeze my report?

No. Experian and Equifax no longer require a PIN to manage a freeze and you don’t need a PIN to change your freeze at TransUnion.

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Written by

Javier Simon

Javier Simon is a freelance finance writer at Finder and a certified educator in personal finance (CEPF). He’s featured on NerdWallet, Bankrate, Yahoo Finance and Fox Business, where he’s shared his expertise on personal finance topics, such as investing, retirement planning, taxes, budgeting and savings. He has also covered breaking news, such as student loan forgiveness initiatives, the housing market and inflation’s impact on consumers’ wallets. His passion is turning complex financial concepts into actionable content that can help people improve their financial lives. Javier holds a bachelor’s degree in multimedia journalism from SUNY Plattsburgh. See full profile

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